Asian Carp

Asian carp have devastated iconic fisheries throughout the country and now threaten the Great Lakes and their connected inland lakes and rivers, too. Asian carp are not just a Great Lakes problem, or a Mississippi River problem, or a Kentucky Lake problem. They’re an American problem, and it will take a united national effort to stop them.

Asian carp are an invasive species which have disrupted fisheries throughout the South and Midwest and now threaten the Great Lakes. Asian carp include bighead, silver, black and grass carp. Bighead and silver carp have damaged fisheries from Kentucky Lake to the Illinois River by hoarding food resources and outcompeting native sport fish. In addition, Black carp threaten endangered mussels from Louisiana all the way up to Illinois and the Ohio River. And finally, Grass carp threaten waterfowl habitat and are reproducing in Lake Erie and its tributaries.

Now more than ever, we need to stop Asian carp from invading our waters in the Great Lakes and reduce their populations wherever they’re found in our country. We have a rare opportunity to stop bighead and silver carp from getting into the Great Lakes where they would threaten the $7 billion sport-fishing industry, the fisheries and way of life for over 40 million people. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a plan to reinforce the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, which would implement multiple technologies to keep Asian carp from advancing closer to Lake Michigan, as a silver carp was able to do in 2017. The final plan is expected in February 2019, when it will need swift congressional approval and funding.

Additionally, we need to maintain and increase funding for solutions to reduce Asian carp populations where they already exist and halt their advance upstream, such as those provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The future of our fisheries depends on it.

Eliminating Pathways

The Army Corps of Engineers plan to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes identified pathways Asian carp could take to the Great Lakes and ways to close them. These include structural measures such as the proposed Brandon Road Lock and Dam plan to install an engineered channel equipped with multiple fish deterrent technologies including a bubble barrier, acoustic “sound cannons,” an electric barrier and a flushing lock.

The final chief’s report on the plan is expected in February 2019, and a draft is currently out for public comment. Public support – particularly from anglers affected by or at risk from an Asian carp invasion – will be critical to getting the plan finalized, approved, funded and built.

Previous successes in blocking pathways to Asian carp include installing the Eagle Marsh berm near Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 2016, to close a connection between the Wabash and Maumee River systems during flooding, and closing the St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minnesota in 2015.

Implementing New Technologies

Methods, technologies and strategies for reducing Asian carp populations are advancing through federal and state collaborations and funded by federal appropriations and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

This year, the Missouri Department of Conservation teamed up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to remove 47,000 Asian carp from a Missouri lake using the unified method.

Michigan hosted a $1 million “Carp Tank” to solicit innovative ideas to stopping Asian carp that could later be added to the Brandon Road plan, including a cavitation bubble barrier.

Agencies are researching technologies using sound, carbon dioxide, piscicide and employing contract commercial fishing to reduce Asian carp numbers where they already are.

All of these methods require continued funding to stop Asian carp, wherever they are.

Silver carp can weigh up to 60 lbs and reach 3 feet in length. They will jump out of the water as high as 5 feet when disturbed by a boat motor, risking injury to recreational boaters and anglers.
Bighead carp can weigh up to 90 lbs and reach 5 feet in length. They consume up to 40% of their body weight daily, eating the food supply which native and sport fish species depend upon.
Black carp can weigh over 150 lbs and grow over 5 feet in length. They east snails, mussels and mollusks, posing a significant threat to many native – and some endangered – species of mussels in the waters they invade.
Grass carp can weigh over 80 lbs and top 5 feet in length. They can eat 20- 100% of their body weight daily in aquatic vegetation, impacting aquatic and wetland habitat for native species.
Asian Carp Research